The two chambers of the National Assembly on their resumption from a five-week recess on Tuesday reviewed the state of the nation and declared that insecurity in the country had reached an alarming level.
The House of Representatives lamented killings, kidnapping, banditry and insurgency across the country and said something must be done urgently to arrest the situation.
On their part, the Peoples Democratic members in the House assessed insecurity in the country, particularly the killings in Plateau State, and concluded that the Federal Government was complacent.
The Senate expressed concern that insecurity in the country had deteriorated. It promised to pursue the community policing policy with vigour.
In the last three months, there has been an upsurge in killings and kidnapping across the country, particularly in Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina and Niger states. Besides, there have been renewed attacks by Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province on residents and troops in the North-East.
Despite the killings and kidnapping, Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) on Sunday, said insecurity in the country was not as bad as it was being reported. He said Nigerians ought to be thankful for the job being done by the government.
But the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Benjamin Kalu, in an interview with journalists in Abuja, said insecurity in the country was alarming.
He stated that the National Assembly must do something to address the worsening insecurity.
He said, “The insecurity in the land is too much. It is alarming. We can no longer paint it with beautiful colours. We can no longer discuss it in low tunes. The cries of the people that have lost their lives are giving us sleepless nights and something needs to be done about it. And this 9th Assembly is going to look at various legislative interventions with regard to insecurity in the land, to ensure that Nigerians are safe – better than they have always been – because that is the core mandate of every government – to protect lives and property.
Kalu noted the renewed insurgent attacks in the North-East and the role of the police in ensuring the country’s internal security.
The lawmaker said, “There were aspersions on the police, on whether they can do it or not. The recent reports that we are getting show that the police are capable of handling our internal security. There are some success stories coming from what they are doing at the moment. We are going to use legislative intervention to support them the more, and all the other role players within the armed forces to make sure that the people are motivated the more to protect Nigerians.”
Show sincerity in stopping Plateau killings, PDP Reps challenge Buhari
Kalu said this just as the PDP members of the House lamented the repeated attacks on communities in Plateau State by killer herdsmen.
The PDP members, including the factional leader of the caucus, Mr Kingsley Chinda, and the lawmaker representing the Bokkos/Mangu Federal Constituency of Plateau State, Mr Solomon Maren, addressed a press conference on the issue on Tuesday.
They expressed concern about “deteriorating security situation in Mangu-Bokkos communities which had claimed several lives and property.
Maren said, “Government seems not only complacent but to be condoning these hoodlums and probably protecting them by dealing with the issues with kid gloves because there is no single prosecution of those arrested over the years; no categorical statement and policy to fight this menace to the finish.
“Even when killer herdsmen were designated and referred to as most dangerous terrorist gang in the world, our government didn’t classify them as such. One can easily conclude that genocide has been declared on my people and indeed Plateau State.
“Consequently, we request as follows: We call on Mr President to show sincerity and commitment, match words with actions, to secure all Nigerians wherever they are. As commander-in-chief, he should provide security agencies with modern equipment, resources and the political will to make them succeed.
“We call on the international community to save our people from extinction, going by the numbers killed every day.
He appealed to Buhari to show love for Plateau State people by providing them with food, water and sanitation as a matter of urgency.
Appealing to the international community, Maren said, “Kindly impress it on the President of Nigeria to end the genocide and the killing of the innocent, harmless and defenceless people of my constituency at home in Plateau and outside Plateau State.
He called on philanthropists and non-governmental organisations to help the displaced people who were living without food, drugs, water and sanitary needs.
Maren said Mangu-Bokkos communities in Plateau had lost 26 people. “The most worrisome part is that, there is no sign that government is willing to perform its constitutional duty of protecting the lives and property of the people or arresting and prosecuting perpetrators of this hideous, barbaric, senseless and inhuman act.”
According to him, those who escaped from the villages under attack are now taking refuge in the Central Church and the Christ Apostolic Church, Bokos.
He added, “The essence of coming together as a federation is to have leadership at various levels to protect everyone. Hence, the constitutional provision in Section 4 is for the security and welfare of the people. We have drifted from the ideas of the founding fathers.”
Senate will ensure community policing – Lawan
In the upper chamber of the National Assembly, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, lamented that insecurity in the country had deteriorated.
Lawan, while welcoming his colleagues from the Christmas and New Year break, said the Senate would pursue with vigour, the implementation of the community policing system.
The lawmakers had earlier held a one-hour closed-session where they bemoaned the security crisis in the country and resolved to debate the issue at plenary on Wednesday (tomorrow).
Lawan reiterated the determination of the Senate to engage the executive arm of government to discuss the implementation of the recently launched National Security Strategy 2019.
He said, “The Senate is going to pursue the implementation of community policing vigorously. For a long time, major stakeholders in the security of our nation and police authorities appear to achieve consensus on the necessity of introduction of community policing in the country.
“To this end, the police authorities will be invited to brief and update the Senate on the progress made so far. The security situation in our country requires serious attention and due consideration by the Senate and indeed the National Assembly.
“Recently, the security in the country has deteriorated and the attendant loss of lives is not acceptable. We need to secure the lives and property of our citizens, as enshrined in our constitution.
“We all are witnesses to how our economy is also affected by the inclement security situation. Therefore, we need to speedily seek for solutions to fix the security problem bedevilling our dear country.
“There is urgent need for a paradigm shift and reform of the architecture and structure of our security systems. Equally important is the citizen participation, and collaboration in providing security.
Lawan assured Nigerians that the National Assembly would ensure the implementation of the 2020 budget.
He said, “The oversight by the National Assembly is as important and critical as passing the budget itself.
“The committees of the Senate will need to carry out vigorous oversight on ministries, departments and agencies under their jurisdiction. In furtherance of this commitment, the Senate will receive and debate the reports of such oversight activities in plenary.
Meanwhile, the South-West states on Tuesday stepped up efforts on the drafting of laws to back their security outfit, Operation Amotekun.
After initial opposition by the Federal Government, the South-West governors and the FG on Thursday settled their differences over Amotekun, which the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, on January 14, declared illegal.
Both sides agreed that each of the South-West states should make a law to back the security outfit, which was conceived to address killings and kidnapping in the zone.
The South-West attorneys general, at a meeting in Ibadan last week, chose Ogun, Lagos and Ekiti states to produce model bills on Amotekun ahead of another meeting next week.
The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Ogun State, Akingbolahan Adeniran, in an interview with The PUNCH on Tuesday, said that the draft of the bill on Operation Amotekun would be out in a few weeks.
He hinted that the bill would be domesticated in the state and would be different from any existing laws that created vigilante services.
According to him, once the draft of the bill is finished, it will be transmitted to the state House of Assembly and subjected to public opinions.
He said, “We are in the process of preparing the draft. You can imagine that a law of this nature is complicated because it is of national interest in so many ways. It is of national interest because it is meant to cater for the security and wellbeing of various residents in various states.
“Because of the fear that people have in vigilante groups, although what is being set up is not a vigilante system, because of that fear, we also want to be sure that the laws being proposed will not be struck out by the Supreme Court in the future. We want to make sure that it is constitutional which is why we have taken a bit of time.
On when the drafting of the bill would end, the AG said, “We are talking about weeks and probably years but I don’t want to comment because it is not only on my hands.”
In Osun State, the Chief Press Secretary to the state Governor, Ismail Omipidan, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the amount that Amotekun operatives would be paid had not been fixed.
In a related development, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, said the Operation Amotekun should be left to work separately.
The group also said the Operation Amotekun should not be put under the about-to-start community policing scheme, and call on the Federal Government not to attempt to make the Amotekun a subordinate of the Nigeria Police.
The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu,had in a wireless message to state commissioners of police last week, directed them to work with traditional rulers with a view to recruiting constables for community policing.
Afenifere, in a communiqué issued at the end of its monthly meeting at the residence of its leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, in Akure, the Ondo State capital on Tuesday, said Amotekun had come to stay.
The group, in the communique by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yinka Odumakin, said Amotekun should be independent in carrying out the security of residents of South-West with “defined operational cooperation with the police but not its subordinate.
“While Amotekun has now come to stay there must be no let or hindrance in the pursuit of a federal Nigeria so we can revert to the multi-level policing status of Nigeria of the past which saw the Nigerian Railway corporation having it’s own police.”
Afenifere said it reviewed the recent struggle to assert the right of the South-West to establish Operation Amotekun and concluded it was a battle won against “the imperial Federal Government by the strong will of the west and its freedom loving friends across Nigeria.”
According to the group, only carpenters posing as lawyers would ever say that security is on any exclusive list as there is no law that stops individuals from securing their premises let alone state actors.
It stated, “The jejune argument by spokesmen for our tormentors that the FG has failed to protect us against, that having a security outfit that cuts across states is unacceptable, was seen as a non-sequitur as Yoruba are a homogenous group once under a region which Nigeria broke into states.”
“The meeting affirmed that Yoruba would find it hard to oppose Amotekun in any other part of Nigeria if it owns Hisbah, Lafiya Dole and harbors Boko Haram and Miyetti Allah that are tormenting the country and making President Trump to consider placing Nigeria on travel ban.”
Afenifere commended the Senate President for supporting the restructuring and the review of security architecture of the country. It also urged the National Assembly to see the matter as the urgent business at the present moment.
It added, “We commended the six South-West governors for standing firm on the Yoruba consensus on Amotekun without blinking. They showed they are proper Yoruba men. We equally appreciated our friends in Ohanaeze, Pan-Niger Delta Forum and the Middle Belt Forum who stood solidly with us”.